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What to do about neighbourhood traffic concerns

Traffic Management Options

What to do about neighbourhood traffic concerns

To request enforcement of speeding or to report unsafe drivers, please call the Ottawa Police Service at 613-236-1222 extension 7300.

If you have community traffic concerns that you would like the City to investigate place a request by e-mail at or by calling 3-1-1. Be specific in highlighting your traffic issues with the operator and they will forward your request to the appropriate City staff for review.

Residents' Initial contact with the City's 3-1-1 system will generate a service request number which you can use to track your concern. If applicable, your traffic issue will be assigned to a Traffic Assessment Specialist for review in the City's Road Safety and Traffic Investigations Branch. Based on these results, the Traffic Assessment Specialist will either provide you with options as described below or forward your request to the Area Traffic Management Branch as a viable candidate for further study.

Traffic Management Options

Quick Fix: In some cases, this approach may be attempted for localized issues, especially those that relate to speed or driver behaviour. Quick fixes can include:

  • Speed survey - to inform residents of actual speeds and/or to identify a specific issue
  • Use of portable speed radar board
  • Targeted enforcement by police services

Operational/Safety: A significant safety issue may require an immediate response, such as a missing stop sign or malfunctioning traffic signals. These issues are immediately referred to the appropriate City department.

Referral: For some issues, traffic management measures may not be appropriate or effective and the issue will be referred to the appropriate department. Examples of issues that may suggest a referral include land use issues, commercial operations, road maintenance, transit service and utilities.

Temporary / Low cost solutions: Occasionally issues may be addressed with lower cost solutions such as additional signage, temporary traffic calming measures, or additional pavement markings. Additional information can be found in the Traffic Service Catalogue.

Local road - 40km/h request: The City of Ottawa offers residents the ability to request, by means of a petition, a reduction in the speed limit to 40 km/h on streets designated as local residential in the City of Ottawa Transportation Master Plan. To qualify, there must be a consensus of a minimum of 66 per cent of residents on the entire street (confirmed via a petition process).

Area Traffic Management Project Screening: Any issue that cannot be resolved quickly or addressed by the options listed above will be moved forward for screening to determine if it would qualify for an Area Traffic Management Study.

Measures used in Area Traffic Management

The City's Area Traffic Management Program provides communities a resource to help plan and implement area traffic management and traffic calming solutions. The application of area traffic management and traffic calming measures may be appropriate when other methods have been unsuccessful.

Area Traffic Management (ATM) is a process using a set of measures to ensure that the streets within neighbourhoods are used appropriately. The primary objective is to minimize the impact of motorized vehicles on these neighbourhoods, improve safety and the quality of life for all street users.

To ensure a fair and transparent process that prioritizes requests based on a problem severity, the City approved the Area Traffic Management Guidelines in 2004 which provides a comprehensive breakdown of the processes, procedures, and methods used to screen, prioritize and address area traffic management and traffic calming requests across the City.

The undertaking of an Area Traffic Management (ATM) study allows communities to:

  • Understand competing interests – There are many competing interests within communities with respect to how streets should function. These studies are a good opportunity for communities to gain an understanding of those interests.
  • Build Consensus on a Solution – An ATM study provides opportunities for community participation and consensus building around defining current problems, identifying potential solutions (including the benefit and impacts associated with each) and selecting the preferred solutions.

Measures used in Area Traffic Management

There are a variety of measures that can be considered, including regulatory measures, physical measures and programs. The feasibility and context of each measure must be evaluated on an individual basis as each will have unique benefits and impacts that need to be considered. The City will seek to resolve concerns by considering the possible use of measures from all of the categories listed under Categories of Measures below.

The effectiveness of these measures increases when implemented as part of a comprehensive plan. Area Traffic Management measures are an integral part of complete streets and healthy communities.

Developing a plan to address a neighbourhood concern should strike an appropriate balance between these three elements:

  1. Effectiveness in solving the identified problem
  2. Unintentional and potentially undesirable secondary impacts
  3. Capital and operating cost

Categories of Measures

1. Traffic Management - Volume

Traffic management measures to address volume concerns could include:

  • Directional closures
  • Full closure-closures
  • Diverters
  • Forced turn islands
  • Right-in/right-out islands
  • Median barriers
  • Turn and movement prohibitions
  • One-way streets
  • Arterial road modifications
2. Traffic Management - Speed and Behaviour

A number of regulatory and physical measures can be used to address speed or driver behaviour issues:

  • Speed zoning
  • One-way to two-way street conversions
  • On-street parking
  • Pavement markings
  • Narrowing the street
  • Realigned intersections
3. Physical Measures - Traffic Calming

These are measures with the primary purpose of reducing vehicular speeds and improving driver behaviour by causing a horizontal or vertical deflection in the vehicle's travel path. Traffic calming measures can be quite effective in reducing speeds, are self enforcing, and usually have few secondary impacts when used on local roads. However, undesired secondary impacts can be a greater concern when used on higher classification roadways. Potential traffic calming measures could include:

  • Speed humps/tables
  • Raised crosswalks
  • Raised intersections
  • Traffic circles (mini)
  • Chicanes
4. Physical Measures - Other

There are a number of other physical modifications to streets that can be implemented in order to improve the pedestrian environment or improve driver behaviour by better defining the travel path used by motorized vehicles:

  • Intersection narrowings
  • Mid-block narrowings
  • Centre island narrowings (Median)
  • Curb radii reductions
  • Lateral shifts
5. Education and Enforcement

Education and enforcement are intended to address issues of speeding and driver behaviour. They typically have limited secondary impacts but can be relatively costly if widely implemented. Enforcement is considered to have limited effectiveness unless it is applied frequently.

The Ottawa Police Service will be encouraged to co-ordinate enforcement efforts with education and other elements of an overall area traffic management program. Enforcement should respect both safety and the liveability aspects of neighbourhoods.

6. Street Environment

Landscaping, streetscaping, gateways and surface treatments on streets can be used to create an environment where the dominance of the motorized vehicle is reduced and to communicate to drivers the need to respect the community they are passing through. Options include:

  • Streetscaping
  • Gateways
  • Textured crosswalks
  • Textured surfaces
  • Sidewalks
7. Traffic Control

Potential traffic control measures could include:

  • Stop signs (if warranted)
  • Roundabouts
  • Mini roundabouts

Please note that regulatory measures such as stop signs and signals conform to warrants that establish criteria that define thresholds for the use of traffic control. Stop signs are a form of traffic control used to assign the right-of-way at intersections; they are not intended to be used as speed control devices. Unwarranted stops signs typically result in compliance problems and in some cases can result in higher speeds. Unwarranted signals can result in increased emissions, delay and collisions.